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Jordan Valley Records: Hi Alan, thanks for taking time out to talk about the killer funk single by Clarity “The Way U Make Me Feel” on Bpop Records, first released in the U.K. in 1985. When was the band Clarity formed and how long was the band together?
Alan Weekes: They were actually a gospel band, I don’t remember exactly when they formed, if it was a year or two before the single (released in 1985), or maybe even three. But I was really only involved in producing the single “The Way U Make Me Feel”, so I don’t know exactly when they disbanded. There were two members who were prominent: The writer Simon Wallace and the bass player Paul Powell.
JV: Could you provide more info about the various members of Clarity?
AW: At the time in producing the single I worked with the vocalist and Paul Powell mostly, and I played on it and brought in other people to help finish the recording. They were connected with my cousin Ralph Weekes, who passed away in ‘91. He was a church guy. So they knew him from there, he was part of their setup.
JV: Did Clarity perform live?
AW: They might have played live, yeah. Probably more churches and stuff. Also they did a tour of the Caribbean with my cousin some time around then, in the mid-80s.
JV: What would they have played live?
AW: I’m not sure. They were a gospel band, so at the time it was a surprise to me that the single on Bpop kind of went in the direction of funk and gained popularity on the DJ circuit.
JV: So was the single a detour from their usual sound?
AW: Well you know, again they were very gospel orientated. So the single itself wasn’t really done in the style of something like, you know “Light of the World”, or marketed that way. They were really marketing from a gospel standpoint.
JV: Can you recall any interesting stories from the recording session?
AW: Hmmmm, don’t really remember it was quite a while back! I remember we worked with LinnDrum and stuff. And Paul Powell was the stand-in bass player. We went to a farm sort of outside London in Harlow. It was pretty remote, to have the studio located on a farm outside London. Other than that….I can’t remember how long the session took, well it was over 30 years right?
JV: Were any other songs recorded by Clarity? Was there any discussion of another single or an LP?
AW: Well on Bpop Records there were a few other singles, like La Famille. And there was some other stuff we were working on at the time, and then my cousin unfortunately passed away and that put everything on hold. Ralph Weekes. He was the executive producer.
JV: Do you reckon there are unreleased Clarity recordings floating around somewhere?
AW: Yeah could be, bits and pieces. But it becomes difficult when things get lost or destroyed, family politics etc.
JV: There are so many great UK funk bands from that period, was Clarity affiliated with any?
AW: Not really. There was a write-up about British Gospel music in a book that came out a few years ago. The book has to do with Black British Gospel music and includes some background about Clarity.
JV: Do you know how many copies of the 12” and 7” were originally pressed?
AW: No, not really (laughs). I mean everything ended abruptly. There were a couple tunes I was writing at that time, but we never really finished them. We never got around to doing the LP.
JV: Lastly, was “U” written with anyone in mind?
AW: Yeah, Jesus! (singing) “The way U make me feel, Lord! Lord!”
JV: Right, there are obviously hints, but it’s not as overt as some gospel music tends to be.
AW: That’s true, it isn’t overt. I remember there were a few songs we were considering, and we chose to do that one because it was the strongest and didn’t overdo it with “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” in your face.
JV: Thanks for granting Jordan Valley Records permission to repress this timeless gospel funk classic. There’s been a great response from funk fans around the world.
AW: Great, well that’s just amazing. Try researching that book about UK Black Gospel.
The book referred to here is British Black Gospel: The Foundations of This Vibrant UK Sound by Steve Alexander Smith